Posts about: ecommerce

Small business SEO – Digital Marketing Strategy for Ivory Promise Brides

4 January 2018

Pnina Tornai wedding dress from Ivory Promise BridesDuring the Christmas break, I’ve been helping out Ivory Promise Brides in Bolton with their small business SEO strategy. Like a lot of small companies Ivory Promise have a WordPress website. They are selling designer wedding dresses from the likes of Pnina Tornai, Eve of Milady, Naama & Anat, Blue by Enzoani, Mon Cheri and Charlotte Balbier. 

I hadn’t heard of these designers before – but they are really impressive and there’s clearly a market here for affordable luxury. The shop are also offering competitive prices and exclusivity to the UK or Europe, so there is a clear value proposition. They have even had enquiries from Dubai where people will fly across the world to their shop in Bolton to see their exclusive dresses.

The first thing I did was try to define who the buyer persona is and then think about the appropriate channels, content and data in order to inform the digital marketing and SEO strategy. This is of course from our very own #Passion4Digital Buyer Persona Spring (shown below) from our book Digital and Social Media Marketing: A Results-Driven Approach. It’s ideal for Small business SEO strategy or indeed for larger companies!

Buyer Persona Spring - useful for Small business SEO strategy

I logged in to their WordPress dashboard and then looked at the data they have from their social media channels, Google Analytics and Google Search Console to start snooping around for data and insights.

What I found was that the site was driving a pretty reasonable amount of traffic, but not really generating many enquiries or conversions. The majority of users are female between the ages of 25-54 and generally from the UK. They were browsing the site usually on mobile (60%).

Small business SEO - demographics

Analytics shows that the buyer persona is female, age 25-54 and usually on a mobile from the UK

I’ve also recently been reading the excellent book E-Commerce Website Optimization: Why 95% of Your Website Visitors Don’t Buy, and What You Can Do About it. Ivory Promise isn’t an ecommerce site in that, it doesn’t sell through the website, so the goal is to generate interest and enquiries. That said, there are a lot of useful insights in the book around user experience, copy optimisation and testing. Basically, the book advocates testing and subtle changes, which can make a big difference.

I formulated a list of things for improvement such as:

  • Install the Yoast plugin for SEO and use to optimise pages
  • Do some keyword research using Keyword Planner and Search Console
  • Split the product pages up so that each could be SEO optimised
  • Create unique titles and meta descriptions based on keyword research
  • Create and encourage more external links including from social media, suppliers and others
  • Make sure the pages are mobile friendly, no errors and explore AMP (accelerated mobile pages) through an AMP plugin
  • Add a contact form and make the contact page clearer and linked from key pages and AMP
  • Take into account the buyer persona in terms of use and behaviour
  • Added a goal in Analytics for the contact page and derived keywords used, demographics, traffic etc.
  • Various other tweaks, copy changes and others
  • Sat down with the client and talked them through the changes and what needs doing on an ongoing basis

Pleased to say, soon after the changes were made, page views have doubled and the shop had a record day for enquiries through the website. Still much work to do – but I think this goes to show that some small changes can make a big difference. It is still a work in progress of course, but shows that you don’t need to spend a fortune, sometimes some small tweaks and attention can make a difference. Have you got any similar experiences or thoughts about small business SEO? We also run short face to face or distance courses in Search and Social Media Marketing. Please Drop me a line on any of this, I’d love to hear from you!

Social media campaigns: don’t FAIL!

21 April 2016

Understanding your goals and achieving a return on investment (R.O.I.) is crucial when embarking on a social media campaigns. There are so many different perceptions of “success” when it comes to social media that you could easily invest a large budget into a campaign and fail to achieve your goals – We did and we were left feeling pretty stupid!!

social media campaigns - didn't think that one through


“Inside Rolls-Royce” on Channel 4

8 May 2014
Inside Rolls-Royce


“Take the best that exists and make it better” 

These were the words of Sir Henry Royce, one half of the Rolls-Royce auto-mobile empire. “Inside Rolls-Royce” is a new documentary on Channel Four which examines what goes on behind the scenes of this exclusive company. It reminds me of a quote from my former head teacher Mrs A.K. Agwu. “Whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well” – one that has stood me in good stead over the years. It has also helped me maintain my resolve to continuously make advancements in every facet of my life.

One of the characteristics of this company is its attention to detail. Perfection or the quest for excellence, comes at a price. Sir Henry Royce’s quote should be mirrored in our attitude to life – relationships, personal development, business and so on. We can always do better, we can always help others advance; we can always contribute positively to a cause in our community.

I write this to emphasize – not the glitz and glamour – but the passion for continuous improvement that the Rolls-Royce brand embodies; which I think is far more important. You’ll find that as you adopt this ethos of continually improving (kaizen), in manageable ‘chunks’, you’ll begin to see noticeable differences in your life. Interestingly, you may also unwittingly ‘attract’ advancement in other aspects of your life as well; areas where you may have previously overlooked.

Thinking Big  à la Rolls-Royce

At the Dubai Motor Show in 2009 – which I attended, I remember being almost in awe of the vehicles on display. China, the US and the Middle East respectively, are the company’s largest buyers. Abu Dhabi now boasts the world’s biggest dealership.

We can all dream and think big just like this duo must have done. Why settle for the sky when there are stars and galaxies to explore? It’s a little more hard work initially, but soon becomes second-nature like everything else that you soon get used to. Towards the end of the Inside Rolls-Royce documentary, a reporter interviews a potential customer about to go for a spin; “… have you driven one before?” Man: “I own 7”. The average Rolls-Royce customer already has 7 other cars, so he definitely picked the wrong guy 🙂

Form Symbiotic Partnerships Just Like Mr Charles Rolls and Sir Henry Royce Did

I now live in the city where Rolls-Royce first started and was at the Midland Hotel not too long ago, where Charles Stewart Rolls and Sir Henry Patrick Royce met 110 years ago (May 4th 1904) to form the partnership which birthed the Rolls-Royce empire two years later. A relationship that wouldn’t have lasted very long had they not needed each other’s expertise.

A visual history of Rolls-Royce can be found at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), which I visited with my family on the day this article was originally published – possibly why I decided to finally finish this blog post four weeks after its first draft; highly recommended: the visit – not my proclivity towards procrastination 🙂

“Inside Rolls-Royce” was quite revealing and is testament to our innate desire for continuous improvement. This resource  has helped me and thousands of business owners worldwide immensely; check it out and you just might end up inside a Rolls-Royce that you bought with your hard-earned money!

Till my next blog post.

Sotonye Afiesimama





SEO – It’s football crazy

11 April 2013

I’ve seen the practise of SEO described as both an art and as a science, and indeed one of my primary considerations when enrolling on the SSMM course at the University of Salford was to ensure I received an authoritative, impartial, and academically applied grounding in the subject rather than a purely commercial one.

Tackling a new art or science project can seem very daunting though, and as the weeks rolled by and multiple layers of influence in the online marketing sphere were revealed, it dawned on me how search engine marketing has many parallels with the world of sport – the concepts of which I can understand much more easily. My sport is football (soccer, if you must), but I think the principles can be extended to virtually any sport you follow – let me know if I’m wrong!

So how can a football team’s success on the pitch mirror a website’s performance on the Google playing field?

League Tables

The Search Engine Results Page (SERP) can be viewed in much the same way as a football league table – the most successful at the top, and with each page back, we can think of lower and lower divisions in the football pyramid. Just as smaller clubs still have their own supporters, so less well-optimised websites will still possess devotees, but the “big boys” at the top will continue to attract the majority of attention and new fans. It is thus the ultimate goal of each club to move up the rankings and become number one.

The Tactical Battle

Christmas trees, diamond midfields, flat back-fours, 4-4-2 or 4-3-3? If these don’t sound familiar to you then they are a selection of tactical formations football manager’s choose to line up their teams, in the hope they will best perform in that way.

A website owner needs to employ tactics in the same way, from how their site is structured (about Sitemaps) to the keyword strategy they employ. Keywords are like the best players on your team, and you want them to control the action on your website, so it is important you select the most “talented” ones you can – and play them in their strongest positions!

A number of tools are available for keyword research, and just as football clubs scout for new players – website owners need to search for terms which will strengthen their “keyword squad”.

Football managers will often check out their opposition to gain a measure of their relative strengths and weaknesses, and via tools such as Open Site Explorer, online marketing managers can do the same to gain a competitive edge.

Style of Play

In order to engage fans and keep them paying at the turnstiles, it is important to offer them a good experience. A fluid style of play with dashes of flair and inspiration, allied to displays of commitment and honesty will satisfy most football fans – and so too, quality content must be the basis of any website aiming to attract supporters and to keep them. Provide a dull, dreary slog and don’t expect to sell many season tickets.

Optimisation of imagery, copy and load speeds are fundamental to an online operation, and a grasp of the basics with a clear vision of how a site “should” work are required before any grand notions of growth and progress are considered.

Giant Killing

Unless your team is blessed with the backing of a billionaire benefactor, getting to the top and staying there is perhaps unrealistic, as the resources available to you cannot compete. Every season though, we hear of David versus Goliath clashes where the little guy wins.

Aristotle spoke of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, and this in football relates to teamwork – everyone pulling in the same direction, with no prima donnas or shirkers in the team.

In the field of marketing, if all aspects of the business are “on message” then success is more achievable. In the online competition for Page ranking, niche or well reasoned keywords can bring success to smaller enterprises who cannot compete head on with large multinationals.

Resting on Laurels

Once a level of success has been achieved, it must be tempting to soak up the glory of a job well done. Be warned though, the competition does not sit still. After a long journey to the top, and will more resources to call upon than most, Manchester City were satisfied with their squad and playing style and changed very little form the formula which brought them success. Their rivals though, Manchester United, invested and adapted resulting in a reversal of fortunes for the neighbouring clubs in the following campaign.

Liverpool F.C., for so long the dominant force in English football, failed to move on from their last championship-winning team and allowed it to become old and stale – they have never fully recovered since, as rivals became more successful and generated more revenue.

Huge high street stores such as Comet and HMV have both failed to move on with the development of online business to disastrous effect.

It is strategically vital to nurture a website in line with developments in the industry and market place, because being left behind can have dire consequences to the visibility and hence profitability of internet traders.

Rules of the Game

Football has a host of governing bodies from FIFA on the world stage, to UEFA in Europe and the FA in England. All have regulations, but the game has generally consistent rules of play which all must obey.

Search Engine Optimisation has no official rule book, but, in the Western world at least, Google can realistically be viewed as the governing body. Such is Google’s dominance as the search engine of choice, that satisfying the demands of its “algorithm” (a tool employed to measure the authority and worth of websites) can be likened to playing by the rules.

Infringements to the laws of the game in football can result in penalties and suspensions, as can infringements to Google dictates when optimising websites. There are many cautionary tales on the web relating to Google’s “Panda” and “Penguin” penalties.

Just like the offside rule in football, Google’s considerations for it’s algorithm are widely confused – but if everything were clear cut and predictable, the beautiful game would not be so exciting, would it?!

This Manager’s Future

My client, Idyll Home, are a relatively young company, and I suppose could be considered a lower division team at present. There is plenty of talent and ambition there though, and I hope to utilise the skills and knowledge acquired on the #SSMMUOS course to push for year on year promotions to the Premier League!

One thing’s for certain about SEO though…it’s a funny old game!

How Can an Online Golf Store Benefit from SEO and SMM?

1 November 2011

Adidas Strike AG Stand Bag is my Online Golf Store that has been in operation since 2004, selling items such as Adidas Strike AG Stand Bag.  When we started out on the internet, I expected to have a website built, and that people would come and buy.  A lot of time, and a lot of money invested, I now know that getting the right people to the Online Golf Store is the key to making it work.  So I decided to take on the challenge, and instead of paying out for the so called “SEO Specialists” every month, I would do it myself.

Golf Equipment Categories

When operating an online store, there are a number of factors to take into account when marketing.  Am I going to go for traffic from broad keywords such as “Golf Clubs”, “Golf Bags”, etc etc, or am I going to go for better converting product specific keywords.  With Golf equipment, there are a lot of categories to choose a product from,  such as golf balls, irons, etc etc.

Well I chose the section Golf Bags and from that, I decided to work on the product Adidas Strike AG Stand Bag.

Adidas Strike AG Stand Bag Ranking

For our online golf store, we have found that people searching for the exact product are by far the highest convertors, so the keywords I am going to work on are “Adidas Strike AG Stand Bag” and “Adidas AG Strike Stand Bag” ranked the Adidas Strike AG Stand Bag page 13th and 16th for the key phrases.

On Page Optimization for the Adidas Strike AG Stand Bag

The first part of the challenge to increase the rankings of the Golf Stand Bag in question, was to change a few things around on site, and as we are always told, “Content is King”.  So first thing was first, get the description redone to be unique.  After following the guidelines, (not giving all the tips away) the onsite changes were made.

Off Page Optimization for Adidas Strike Ag Stand Bag

Next I needed to get the off site work done.  A blog post on the Adidas AG Strike Stand Bag and a few little bits here and there, and we were waiting for the results to flow in…


Within a few days of starting to make the changes, I had noticed results.  I had increased in the Google rankings from 16th to 9th, and from 13th to 7th.  This was quite a change already.

After a few more tweaks here and there, and a few more tricks thrown in I had learnt, and i had a look again.  Pretty much 10 days since  starting to work on the item, and I was quite shocked by the results.  The main search term I was focusing on was “Adidas Strike AG Stand Bag” and for this term, I was first in the search results and so far up to 6th for “Adidas AG Strike Stand Bag”.

Well just another 600 or so products to work on; and get them to the top of the SERPS… and i’m looking forward to your comments below or via Stuart White on LinkedIn !